- May anyone in Texas carry a handgun?
Generally, yes. The 87th Texas Legislature changed the law to permit most persons to carry a handgun in most places in Texas beginning September 1, 2021. This new, more permissive legal regime is often referred to as “constitutional carry” to distinguish it from the former, “licensed carry” regime.
- Does “Constitutional Carry" affect the carrying of a handgun at UT Austin also?
No. The Campus Carry regime remains unchanged.
- May anyone carry a handgun openly in Texas?
Yes. The 87th Texas Legislature changed the law to permit open carry by most persons in most places in Texas beginning September 1, 2021.
- Does Texas' "Open Carry" law allow the open carry of a handgun at UT Austin also?
No. The law permitting the carrying of handguns openly (in a shoulder or belt holster) is distinct from the Campus Carry law. Only LTC holders may carry a handgun on campus and the law makes clear that LTC holders may not carry a handgun openly on the campus of an institution of higher education such as UT Austin.
Concealed "Campus Carry"
General/About the Law
- What is Texas' "Campus Carry" law?
"Campus Carry" is the common name for the law that authorizes an LTC holder to carry a concealed handgun at institutions of higher education in Texas. This authorization is subject to the institution's reasonable rules and regulations, as explained below. Campus carry was authorized by S.B. 11, 84th Legislature, which is codified as Section 411.2031, Texas Government Code.
- Does the Campus Carry law allow everyone to carry a concealed weapon at UT Austin?
No. The law does not grant a universal right to carry a concealed weapon on campus. The law allows only LTC holders to carry a concealed handgun, and only on some parts of campus.
- What is required for a person to be eligible for an LTC in Texas?
Please refer to Texas Government Code, Section 411.172 for exact eligibility requirements.
- Generally, an applicant must meet 14 distinct standards to receive an LTC in Texas. Among those are requirements that the applicant be a legal resident of Texas for six months prior to application; be at least 21 years of age (or a member of the military or veteran not dishonorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces); have no felony convictions; not be currently facing certain criminal charges; not be chemically dependent; and be capable of exercising sound judgment with respect to the proper use and storage of a handgun.
- Applicants for an LTC in Texas must also demonstrate handgun proficiency by taking and satisfactorily completing a handgun use and safety course taught by a qualified instructor. (Exemptions from parts of this requirement exist for certain applicants, such as honorably discharged military veterans.)
- What does it mean to have a license to carry (LTC)?
Texas state law permits eligible persons to apply for and receive a license to carry a handgun on their person.
- What weapons are covered under the license to carry permit?
The statute covers only handguns. A handgun is a pistol, revolver or other firearm the length of the barrel, which, not including any revolving, detachable, or magazine breech, does not exceed 12 inches. Other weapons — rifles or shotguns — are not permitted in campus buildings.
- If Texas has reciprocity with another state and that state allows concealed carry at age 18, can an LTC holder from the other state who is younger than 21 carry a handgun in Texas?
No. LTC holders from other states must comply with Texas law when carrying in Texas, including age restrictions for LTC licensing. Texas has not entered into a reciprocity agreement that allows a person with a LTC from another state to carry a handgun in Texas at a younger age than the minimum age for obtaining a LTC under Texas law.
- What process did UT Austin use to establish institution-specific policies for the carry of concealed handguns on campus?
Former President Fenves appointed a Campus Carry Working Group that sought input from a broad group of stakeholders including faculty members, students, staffers, parents and alumni. The Working Group made recommendations to the president, who adopted the proposed policies, which were then reviewed and accepted by the UT System Board of Regents. The Board of Regents rejected one of the proposed rules.
- Will the university continue to monitor the implementation of the Campus Carry law?
Yes, the university will monitor its impact on faculty, staff and students. UT Austin's Campus Cary Implementation Task Force also acknowledges continued, significant concerns about how the law will affect the institution's ability to recruit and retain faculty members and students.
If problems develop, we will work to understand the causes and make adjustments to the policies, rules, and practices, consistent with the law.
- What qualifies as a "sole occupant office"?
A sole occupant office is a room with at least one door and walls that extend to the ceiling that is assigned to a single person as his or her workspace that is not generally open to the public.
- What is oral notice, and how should it be given in a legally effective way?
Oral notice is notification spoken by the sole occupant of an office that clearly communicates to someone who might enter the office that concealed carry of handguns is not permitted in there.
- Such notice is effective only to the individual, or individuals, to whom the notification was given. For example, if you give oral notification to a group of students on the first day of class, and a student was not present because he or she had not joined the course yet, then legally effective notice has not been given to that student. Faculty or staff members must ensure that they have provided proper notification to all individuals who might enter that office.
- A statement included in a syllabus is not a legally effective notification.
- Can UT Austin establish a policy that prevents LTC holders from bringing their handguns on UT Austin's campus?
No. UT Austin may establish "reasonable rules" regulating the carrying of concealed handguns by LTC holders, so long as those rules do not "generally prohibit or have the effect of generally prohibiting [LTC] holders from carrying concealed handguns on the campus of the institution." UT Austin may also adopt policies concerning the storage of handguns in residential facilities.
- Are there any places that an LTC holder cannot carry a concealed handgun?
Yes. Texas state law, including sections 46.02, 46.03, and 46.035 of the Texas Penal Code, prohibits handguns and other weapons in certain places when properly signed, including but not limited to:
- On the premises of a business that derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
- On the premises where a high school, collegiate, or professional sporting or interscholastic event is taking place.
- On the premises of a correctional facility.
- On the premises of a hospital or nursing home (without proper authorization).
- In an amusement park.
In addition, the rules regulating concealed carry at UT Austin create "gun exclusion zones" that include:
- Most residential dormitories on campus, with exceptions for family members.
- High Hazard Laboratories, defined by the possession of more than 55 gallons of Class I flammable liquids and/or significant quantities of acids, bases, organics, pyrophorics, peroxides, extremely toxic materials or pyrophoric or toxic gases classified National Fire Protection Association 704 Category 3 or higher.
- Animal research facilities, defined as a group of rooms that are managed as a unit dedicated to animal housing and use.
- Any location where pre-K-12 activities are held (Texas Penal Code 46.03(a)(1).)
- See question No. 2 of 'Exclusion Zones' for more information about pre-K-12 activities.
- Patient care areas.
- Sole occupant assigned offices (not generally open to the public) where the individual provides oral notice that the concealed carry of handguns is prohibited there.
- Are concealed handguns permitted at activities on campus sponsored by pre-K-12 schools?
No. Handguns are not permitted at school-sponsored activities. Such activities are defined as tours, demonstrations, field trips, events, clubs, classes, clinics, programs, etc., that are held on UT property and authorized by a pre-K-12 school district or individual schools as a curricular, co-curricular, or interscholastic activity and are managed or supervised in part by the district or school, or district or school employee.
- Are concealed handguns permitted in patient care areas?
No. The concealed carry of handguns is prohibited in patient-care areas, including those areas in which professional mental health services are provided. This prohibition includes not only traditional patient care facilities, but also research laboratories and other research areas where, as part of a research program, patient care is delivered by or under the supervision or direction of a licensed health care provider.
- For employees who carry, what should they do if they work in a building where concealed carry is permitted, but have meetings in excluded areas?
Because there is no storage for guns on campus, it is advised that you check in advance regarding the status of the building or office you will be visiting to make sure that guns are not excluded from the location. You may use your normal work breaks, including lunch, if necessary, to store your gun in your car or at a location off campus. If you need to use additional time, you may request paid leave, such as vacation or earned compensatory time for this purpose.
- What should I do if I see a handgun or any other type of weapon on campus?
Call 911. An LTC holder is required to keep the handgun out of sight. If you see a person on campus with a weapon, you can help with campus safety by alerting police about suspicious activity.
- Can a LTC holder carry his/her handgun in a backpack or purse?
Yes, but the backpack or purse must be on or about the LTC holder’s person and the handgun must be in a holster that completely covers the trigger and entire trigger guard area.
- Is there any safety training for what I should do in an active shooter situation?
UTPD encourages all faculty, staff, and students to view the “Run, Hide, Fight” active shooter training video.
- How can I appeal a decision regarding the implementation of the policy?
To submit an appeal, you must review the Campus Carry Implementation Task Force Appeals Process and complete the electronic appeal form. The Appeals Sub-Committee of the Campus Safety and Security Committee will review the request and provide a recommendation to the full Campus Safety and Security Committee for review and decision.
- What do I do if I see a handgun in my classroom or on campus?
If you see a gun, call 911.
Campus carry requires that handguns remain concealed at all times with no exceptions, and if a handgun is visible, however briefly, it may be a violation of university policy and law. Notify law enforcement via 911 and UTPD will arrive and assess the situation. Persons who violate these laws and policies are subject to penalties and fines in addition to disciplinary action imposed by the university.
If your class is in a location where you cell phone does not get reception, identify the nearest location you can make a call at the beginning of the semester so you know where to go, if needed. If you have a TA or AI, have them leave and find the best place to call 911.
- Do faculty have a right to know if students are carrying a gun in class?
No. Even if a faculty member were to ask, the LTC holder is not required to respond. Under Texas law, only law enforcement can verify whether a person is carrying and has a LTC.
- What areas of campus are excluded?
In the development of the policies adopted by President Fenves to comply with the law in a way that prioritizes the safety of everyone on the campus, the concealed carry of handguns is prohibited in these locations.
- Places where K-12 school-sponsored K-12 are held
- Polling places during elections and early voting
- Government courts or offices used by the court
- Businesses that serve alcohol and make 51%+ of revenue from alcohol sales
- High school, collegiate, professional sporting events or interscholastic events
- Areas where existing state or federal laws already require exclusions
- Areas where patient-care and mental health services are provided
- Ticketed sporting events
- Formal administrative hearings, such as those held in Student Judicial Services
- High hazard labs, i.e., those with extremely dangerous chemicals, biologic agents, explosive agents and equipment where the discharge of a firearm might cause great harm.
- Certain animal research and care facilities
- Residence halls, for students, with the exception of common areas
- Faculty and staff offices occupied by sole occupants who have exercised their right to ban guns by giving oral notice.
- What happens to LTC holders who violate the law?
Criminal penalties for those who violate the law and university polices can vary depending on the violation. Those punishments can include loss of license by the LTC holder, significant fines and penalties, or even time in jail. UTPD will investigate all reported cases and make the appropriate decision based on the facts provided. The university will also investigate the violation and may impose a university sanction, up to and including termination for employees and expulsion for students.
- Can I ban the carry of concealed handguns in my classroom?
No. Faculty members cannot ban the concealed carry of handguns in their classrooms. Excluding handguns from classrooms would have had the effect of generally prohibiting student license holders from carrying their handguns, and thus would violate S.B. 11. Language in the law specifically forbids any policies that would generally prohibit campus carry or have the effect of generally prohibiting campus carry. That is why the concealed carry of handguns in classrooms is allowed.
- What if the inherent nature or requirements of the class (swimming, dancing, etc.) make concealment difficult or impossible?
If the inherent nature or requirements of the class would make the concealed carry of a handgun difficult, clearly communicate to your students the requirements of the class. For example, some active dance classes require the free movement and physical interaction that could inadvertently reveal someone who is trying to carry a concealed handgun. Encourage your students who are licensed to carry and choose to carry a handgun to think through their day and plan accordingly, which may mean leaving their handgun at home or secured in a private vehicle. It is the responsibility of the LTC permit holder to know and understand the university polices regarding campus carry.
- Can I ban the concealed carry of guns in my office?
Yes, only if you are the sole occupant of your office (in other words, you are the only faculty member assigned to your office) may you ban concealed carry in your office by oral notification. This is the only legally effective way to do so.
You may orally notify students in your class or learning environment in a variety of ways. For example, you can make an announcement on the first day of class. If any students are not present for that class, or if you have students who join the class later, you must provide the same notice to them.
Given the movement of students in and out of classes during the first few weeks, you may wish to have your students sign a statement that acknowledges that they have received oral notification of your desire to ban guns in your office. We realize each class and faculty member presents a different situation, so implement oral notification in the way that works best for you. If you are having trouble deciding how to best implement in a legally effective way, we encourage you to contact the Implementation Task Force to receive guidance.
- What is oral notice? How is it defined?
Oral notice is spoken communication that makes clear to the listener that concealed carry of handguns is not permitted in that faculty member's office. No particular words are required; it can be as simple as “I prohibit the concealed carry of handguns in my office.”
- Can I put a sign on my office door?
Signs are not a legally effective way to provide notice that you have banned guns in your sole occupant office.
If you are the sole occupant of an office and want to exercise your right to ban the conceal carry of handguns from your office, we remind you that oral notification is the only legally effective way to provide that notice. A sign, not accompanied by oral notification, might be considered “wrongful exclusion” and thus a violation of the law subject to fines and penalties associated with the law.
You are not authorized, however, to put up a 30.06 sign (the statutorily required sign that gives notice to a LTC holder that the area where the sign is posted is an exclusion area). Only designated university personnel are allowed to post these signs, as required by university policy.
- May I include information about campus carry in my syllabus?
You may. However, please remember that notification in your syllabus is not a legally effective way to provide notice that you have banned guns in your sole occupant office.
- I do not have my own office, but I would like to conduct meetings in a gun-free exclusion zone. What should I do?
Many graduate students and some faculty do not have their own office, and have expressed their desire to be able to meet with students in a gun-free exclusion zone.
Rooms are available for meetings with students the in Student Services Building (SSB). They are: G1.104, G1.106, G1.116, G1.402, G1.406, G1.410, 3.406 and 4.212.
To schedule a meeting in one of these rooms, visit this webpage: https://ems.universityunions.utexas.edu/VirtualEms/
- If I am the sole occupant of my office and I choose to exercise my right to prohibit guns, does that only apply when I am present? Would the prohibition still apply if my TA was in the office meeting with students while I am away?
The prohibition applies to the office, so it would still be effective if the assigned sole office occupant is not present. In this example, a faculty member’s TA would be able to meet with students in an office where guns are prohibited.
It is still the responsibility of the sole office occupant to provide effective oral notice for the prohibition. The TA, or anyone else, cannot provide legally effective notice.
- I have visitors that come to my sole occupant office for meetings. How should I provide effective notice that I have exercised my right to ban guns in my office?
Many times, faculty and staff have visitors, colleagues or students from other classes who come to their office. These are circumstances that faculty have not been able to provide notice in the same way they might with students in a classroom setting.
- There are many ways to provide effective oral notice to those you might visit your office outside of normal class routines. Remember, you only have to provide this notice once to an individual, so for any following visits you do not have to repeat this process.
- If someone calls to make an appointment, you can provide notice over the phone. You can post information about your office policy on your webpage, but you must also provide the oral notice when they arrive.
- If a staff member or colleague makes an appointment for you, they can inform the visitor of your office policy, however, you must also provide the oral notice when they arrive.
- If someone shows up unannounced, oral notice must be given at that time.